Friday, January 17, 2014

Wendy's Recommending:
The year is 1975 and Reno--so-called because of the place of her birth--has come to New York intent on turning her fascination with motorcycles and speed into art. Her arrival coincides with an explosion of activity in that world, and Reno meets a group of dreamers and raconteurs who submit her to a sentimental education of sorts. Ardent, vulnerable, and bold, she begins an affair with an artist named Sandro Valera, the estranged scion of an Italian tire and motorcycle empire. When they visit Sandro's family home in Italy, betrayal sends Reno reeling into a clandestine undertow.

The Flamethrowers is an intensely engaging exploration of the mystique of the feminine, the fake, the terrorist. At its center is author Rachel Kushner's superbly realized protagonist, a young woman on the verge. Thrilling and fearless, this is a major American novel from a writer of spectacular talent and imagination.
Set during the American Revolution, Revolutionary tells the story of Deborah Samson Gannett, a young woman who runs away from her home in Middleborough Massachusetts, disguises herself as a man and enlists in the Continental Army, serving as a soldier for over a year and a half. Hewing closely to the historic truth, the novel chronicles Deborah's skirmishes throughout Westchester and her travel with General Paterson to quell the mutiny in Philadelphia in 1783. Amid this historical narrative, Deborah also struggles with her own transformation and her ability to live as a man, wrestling with the question of what this means for her future and how she should live once the war is done. Before she can face that future, though, she must survive not only the physical battles but also tghe emotional strains brought on by warfare, treason, friendship and, ultimately, love.
In this gripping true story, an extraordinary professor who teaches a popular course on death plunges deep into the off-campus hours of her most vulnerable students and shows them how to live.

Each year, Kean University in Union, New Jersey, offers an exclusive class called Death in Perspective. Led by Professor Norma Bowe, the objective of the class is to “develop an understanding of the nature and experiences of the stages of dying, death, and bereavement.” It has a three-year waiting list.

But as acclaimed journalist Erika Hayasaki discovers, by teaching mortality, Dr. Bowe is quietly rescuing students from tragedy. As she takes her students to cemeteries, prisons, morgues, and hospitals, she shows how the contemplation of the end can change an adult’s beginning. Over the course of two years, she intervenes with one student and her suicidal mother, mentors another with a mentally ill brother, and redeems a third from his life in a gang. And in the end, the students themselves heal Dr. Bowe herself from the lingering pain of a childhood she has long repressed.

On one level, The Death Class is about the loss of life; on another level, it’s a celebration of what the human spirit can conquer. It’s about how we can survive and learn to live a meaningful life.

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